Spot Sea Urchins

  • 149631 urchin photos identified
  • 11014 citizen scientists


A northern sea urchin – Centrostephanus rodgersii – has been heading south on the slipstream of a stronger East Australian Current and taking up residence in the waters around Tasmania.

This shift in its normal range – the result of climate change – is having serious impacts on the local kelp and seaweed ecosystems.

Sea urchins are generally just one of the creatures living in a kelp forest, alongside fish, crustaceans and other marine animals both large and small.

However, the invasive large spiney Centrostephanus urchins can turn a healthy kelp bed into a marine lunarscape denuded of seaweed and sea life – an urchin barren.   The impact of these urchin barrens on kelp beds is like taking a bulldozer through a rainforest.

With the loss of the kelp forests, biodiversity collapses in that area with potentially significant environmental and economic impacts to fisheries and tourism.

But we can do something about it – and that’s where you can help.

A team of scientists from the University of Tasmania are investigating the problem and the first thing they need to do is understand the extent of the invasive urchins – how many are out there? what is their range? And how extensive are the urchin barrens?



How you can help

Our scientists have thousands and thousands of images of the seafloor at various depths and locations taken by a robotic underwater vehicle (an AUV).  They  need help identifying urchins in these images – they’re interested in all urchins, but especially the Centrostephanus urchins.

Can you volunteer some time to help by looking at the images and marking the location of sea urchins, and highlighting the Centrostephanus uchins?  

Before you get started we’ll give you a quick tutorial so you know what to do.  And once you’ve identified 10 images you’re eligible to enter the competition to win an underwater camera.   If you’re a teacher or student you can enter your class as a group -  and once your class has identified 50 images you can enter the competition to win one of two schools prizes.

Sea Urchin photos have all been completed.  But you can still  help with kelp!

Join now
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